North Korea is preparing to put two American tourists on trial for carrying out “hostile acts” against the country.
Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle were detained separately, three weeks apart, in April. Officials in Pyongyang, the nation’s capital, have not said what the two did that was considered illegal or what punishment they may face.
"Their hostile acts were confirmed by evidence and their own testimonies,” read a statement, quoted by Fox News, from the official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA. The statement did not say when the trial would begin.
Reports from diplomatic sources indicate that Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. It is believed the 56-year-old was detained for leaving a Bible in his hotel room.
A spokesman from his family said he was not in the country on a mission from his church. The spokesman said Fowle’s wife and three children miss him and "are anxious for his return home.”
The statement from the North Korean news agency said Miller was detained after he arrived in the country on April 10. Upon his arrival, the statement asserted, Miller, 24, tore up his tourist visa and declared that he was seeking asylum in the country.
A large number of Western tourists arrived in North Korea in early April to run in the annual Pyongyang Marathon. Organizers with the event said Miller was not planning on running in the marathon.
Other U.S. citizens have not faired well in North Korean courts. In 2013, U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years hard labor. The Korean-American was charged with similar hostile acts against the state.
The investigations into Miller and Fowle are ongoing.
“The relevant organ of the DPRK is carrying on the investigation into them and making preparations for bringing them before court on the basis of the already confirmed charges,” said the KCNA statement as reported by CNN.
The DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The United States does not have an embassy in North Korea. The Swedish Embassy represents American interests in the country. KCNA said Pyongyang officials are working with Swedish authorities.
The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the pending trial but said it may address the situation during its Monday news briefing.
In May, the State Department updated its North Korea travel warning to say it "strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea.”